Bus firm moves in to fill the transport gaps

Bus run by the Catch 22 firm.
Bus run by the Catch 22 firm.

A Blackpool-based bus firm is planning to take over some of the Fleetwood routes which could be lost because of cutbacks at Lancashire County Council.

There are fears in Fleetwood that bus services 74, 75, 84A and 86 are likely be withdrawn in April because cash-strapped County Hall says it is no longer in a position to pay subsidies on them.

Residents in Fleetwood says the loss of the routes will leave a black hole in local transport links, cutting off the port’s direct connections to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Knott End and Poulton.

But now there has been a move from bus firm Catch 22, which is based at Brinwell Road, Mereside.

Phil Higgs, director of the company, says he has approached the traffic commissioner with a view to extending his firm’s current no 22, which currently runs between Mereside and Cleveleys, so that it will also include stops at Larkholme, Fleetwood and Freeport in its route.

He says it will replace the northern sections of the under-threat evening bus 84A which links Fleetwood to Blackpool via Cleveleys and Poulton.

Mr Higgs also wants to introduce a new bus, the 24, which will link Fleetwood to various stops in Thornton, Carleton and Poulton covered by the at-risk 74 (which links Fleetwood to Blackpool Victoria) and parts of the 75 (runs between Fleetwood and Preston).

The company already operates three other commercial bus services in Blackpool, the 6, 12 and 21 and it is hoped the changes will come into effect on Monday April 4.

Mr Higgs added: “Parts of Fleetwood are likely to be cut off and facing a massive gap in services The new routes I am planning to bring in will cover some of the links that stand to be lost.

“We are now in consultation with various stakeholders about the service changes and will be introducing a consultation page for bus users on our website, which will inform our final timetable and operating pattern.”

This can now be found online at www.catch22bus.co.uk.

Meanwhile, there are fears that bus operator Stagecoach, which operates some of the under-threat services, will close its depot on Siding Road, Fleetwood, in April.

A spokesperson for Stagecoach in Lancashire said the County Council’s cuts would have a ‘huge impact’ on staff and services at Fleetwood, which operates on Siding Road.